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I'm curious, Erin, what YOU think the impression of suddenly stopping a giveaway program would give to parents and children.

Through our North American lens, it might seem heartless and cruel. Taking away Christmas.

Through the recipient community lens, it may be a relief. Not having to figure out what to do with or how to pay for random boxes of things that may or may not be appropriate for the children in the community (and that often come in July, not Christmas); father not having to explain why someone in North America gives his kids things while he can’t.

One alternative is a global partnership such as those offered through World Renew. Perhaps they could send Christmas greetings to each other. In one of these church partnerships, the churches send letters to one another. These letters have been kept and read and reread over the years. During COVID, they have also attended each other’s church services online.

Perhaps they could take the money that would be spent at big box stores here and instead send it to the local church to provide a special holiday meal for the families in their community, allowing the local church to be the hero in their own story of transformation. Or, perhaps both the North American church and the church in the developing community could both do a community meal at similar times, sharing ideas and experiences for outreach and how to share the gospel in word and deed.  

The impression? Wow, our brothers and sisters in Christ value us.

World Renew is also offering grants to deacons for reaching out to the most vulnerable in their communities.

In Canada, this is being done in collaboration with Diaconal Ministries Canada

US churches can download the information here:

Posting this on behalf of Roy Berkenbosch, theological advisor for World Renew and primary author of The Theology of Development:


Thanks John and Larry for kickstarting this important discussion.  I found Phil’s blog piece enlightening and interesting – he reminds us that mere activism, untethered to the good news of Jesus Christ is seriously limited.  He mentions the opportunity that lies in channeling the energy for change, especially among young people, into missionary endeavours.    He warns of the risk that unless this work is grounded in Christ it is futile.  I would offer two thoughts about that.  For one thing, the risk is also an opportunity – an opportunity for the church to come alongside this growing activism and wisely explain that the quest for justice, the desire to serve the neighbour, the passion to bring healing and hope, is in fact a significant theme in scripture and constitutes a major part of the work of Jesus and thus of the people of God.  When young people find that their concerns are not at cross-purposes to the mission of God they might find a new enthusiasm for the gospel too.  Secondly I think that even when good works do not include gospel proclamation, they might still be unintended imitations of Jesus, obedient, if unwitting, responses to the command to love the neighbour.  To that extent they are not futile, only incomplete.

Like Resonate, World Renew too is deeply committed to the integration of word and deed.  Here’s how we sometimes describe that integration: Because we believe that poverty and oppression are the result of broken systems and structures, and because that brokenness exists in a swirling matrix of ideas and beliefs, ideologies and worldviews, the introduction of the healing narrative of the gospel is indispensable for bringing about deep and sustainable change.  Christian community development that seeks to be transformational therefore must include not only education, health training and leadership development and so on, but also advocacy for just policies and renewed systems and structures; but more than that it recognizes the fundamentally religious nature of poverty and development, and thus brings the whole enterprise under the scrutiny and healing of the biblical narrative – the story of God’s healing and justice, of God’s Kingdom and salvation, the story of God’s creation and renewing of all things in and through Jesus Christ. We must to embrace that story, speaking it, living it, celebrating it and sharing it, so that we may relinquish the false dehumanizing stories that mar the image of God in us and which turns our best work to ruins.

Thank you Dan. 

Central services (HR, the building expenses, IT staff time, etc.) are allocated to the agencies based on usage. World Renew is charged for the services it uses, which it pays for with donor dollars. Theoretically it then contributes to economies of scale, however our accountants do keep an eye on whether we are saving or spending more by being part of central services.


You are correct that we do receive benefits of the denomination and report to Synod. Therefore our official stance on climate change is the same as Synod’s:

Note especially the first four items in the call to action for churches:

1. That synod call upon the churches, members, and denominational bodies to be voices for justice and public examples in the effort to live sustainably within our God-given resources, to promote stewardship in our own communities and our nations, and to seek justice for the poor and vulnerable among us and for future generations.

2. That synod call upon the churches and their members to reduce individual and collective carbon emissions to the atmosphere. We should examine energy choices in our homes, lives, businesses, farms, and institutions from a perspective of stewardship, challenging ourselves to use less energy and to use it more wisely.

3. That synod call upon the churches and their members to consider and advocate for public strategies that reduce carbon emissions and move us toward very low or zero net emissions.

4. That synod call upon the churches, their members, and appropriate denominational agencies and institutions to respond with generosity and compassion to people and places negatively affected by climate change, as well as to make efforts to mitigate it. This includes advocating with our governments to take the necessary actions in an effective global framework to assist populations that are bearing the brunt of the negative effects of climate change while being the least able to cope.

 #4 is where World Renew comes in. The communities where we work are impacted by changing weather patterns, climate change, deforestation, land degradation, etc. Subsistence farmers need to drastically change their agricultural practices in order to achieve food security. We are responding to more droughts and floods internationally, and to more natural disasters within the U.S. 

I would hope that even if one disagrees with the premise of the cause of climate change, that one could get behind the work that we are doing to help people have enough to eat.

Which brings us back to the original question: Do we believe Mark 8:36?

Yes. We believe in the WHOLE Bible. The good news that is not just for Sunday, but for every square inch, 24/7.

People have come to Christ because we distributed food relief at churches regardless if the recipient was Muslim or Christian.

Refugees are meeting Christians for the first time.

Churches have been planted in West Africa because the Muslims were so touched by the relief given by a neighboring Christian village.

Churches in North America and around the world are growing because rather than give a handout, relationships are built to help people out of not just material poverty but spiritual poverty. This is change that lasts--for eternity.

I was surprised to see coffee and spices listed, since those are things that I buy when I visit the field :-)

Steve, I found it interesting that you used this as an example of declining interest in missions: "Attention to the world was increasingly focused on responding to disasters, community development and short term teams, including youth groups, which led to direct personal involvement." 

Used as part of an overall church missions strategy, I see those things as ways of strengthening commitment to missions. Furthermore, many of CRWRC's community development workers see themselves as missionaries; indeed, they are on the front lines helping indigenous churches to get out there and reach the poor. Their churches are growing faster than ours.

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